Revisiting Hitchens’ Challenge

Revisiting Hitchens’ Challenge November 6, 2018

Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011), a well-known atheist orator, had a moral challenge for Christians: identify a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a believer that couldn’t be taken or uttered by a nonbeliever—something that only a believer could do and an atheist couldn’t. He said that he had been given no credible answer.

Amy Hall from Stand to Reason (Greg Koukl’s ministry) thinks she is up to the challenge. Let’s take a look.

1. Hitchens misunderstands the theist’s point

[Hitchens thinks the Christian is saying] that without God, we couldn’t know right from wrong, when the actual objection is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong

Where’s the problem? As I read Hitchens, he was responding to the assumption that being a Christian provided some moral advantage. (And, according to Christianity, it does: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (1 John 5:18).)

And if you want to argue that morality exists only because God put it there, that needs some evidence. You’ve provided none (more on Christians’ inability to defend objective morality here).

2. The Challenge is unanswerable

This is a clever observation: if Hitchens the atheist is the judge of the Hitchens Challenge, the Christian can’t win because he decides what is moral.

There might be certain acts that only theists would recognize as being moral. Atheists, not recognizing those acts as being good, would not attempt to do them as moral acts.

The first problem is that this undercuts another popular Christian apologetic argument. What’s wrong with Hitchens as judge—don’t you say that morality is objective? If morality is objective (defined by apologist William Lane Craig as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not”) and we humans can reliably access those values, Hitchens or any honest atheist would be as good a judge as anyone.

Since it is logically impossible to give an answer that will satisfy Hitchens, he may as well ask us to draw him a square circle and then declare himself the winner when we fail. In the end, his challenge is nothing but a rhetorical trick, and it should be exposed and dismissed as such. Hitchens should never get away with even asking it, let alone demanding we give him an “acceptable” answer in order to defend theism.

I’m reminded of the lawyer’s maxim, “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.” There’s a lot of table pounding here along with the demand that the Challenge be dismissed as inadmissible.

The resolution is simple: insist that objective, unbiased third parties must judge this Challenge. Easy.

As it happens, there is an answer to Hitchens’s question—one that seemed obvious to me immediately—and it illustrates perfectly the problem with the challenge. The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God—to love Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not only will no atheist ever do this, no atheist can do this.

That’s the pinnacle of morality? It’s an odd definition of morality that has nothing to do with doing good to living beings, but I guess Christians can define their dogma as they choose. And that’s the point: this is dogma specific to Christians. Our objective, unbiased third party judges would reject this. (More on how praise applied to God makes no sense here.)

Now it looks like it’s you who’s playing the rhetorical trick.

Let’s return to the Challenge. Hitchens is simply saying that Christians can claim no moral high ground over atheists and that Christianity brings nothing moral to the table that wasn’t already part of social interaction. God pretends to generously gives morality to humans, but it was theirs all along, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Concluded with one more Christian response in part 2.

If there is a God,
He will have to beg my forgiveness.
—  written on a wall in
Mauthausen concentration camp

.

Image from mari lezhava, CC license
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  • Kevin K

    Basically, she’s declaring the test to be unfair. I think pigeon chess is the best chess, because whenever I decide I want to win, I just upset all the pieces and declare victory.

    • And that’s a common tactic–trying to invalidate the opponent’s argument so you don’t have to deal with it.

      To take another example, I see that with self-refuting arguments. Instead of trying to find the (usually easy) interpretation that maintains the argument but loses the flaw, they want to say, “Invalid!” and dismiss it.

      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/03/christian-cowardice-and-the-suicide-tactic/

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        hell. not even invalidate, straight up ignore, if they could actually invalidate the arguments they would be doing argumentation properly, all they do is use about a thousand words to say ‘La, la, la, i’m not listening, as i can’t hear any arguments i must be right.’

        • Especially when it’s often very easy to tweak the errant statement to make it “valid” again. It’s just cowardice IMO.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          often that tweak is going to cause them grief further down the line, by either making another argument invalid or bring ideologically problematic, eg, accepting the ‘jerk god’ position would help a large number of their arguments, but is unpalatable to them.

  • zenlike

    Amy Hall also just plain ignores the reason why Hitches posed this challenge. She might claim that what christians really want to say is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong without god, but in reality, many christians *do* claim that atheists are not or less moral because we can’t know right from wrong. She pretends to speak for all christians when she claims they *really* mean something else, but that only shows a huge amount of hubris on her part.

    As for her attempt to answer: her answer is only partial. OK, she mentions an action that atheists can’t do, and christians do. Now she needs to prove that this action actually *is moral*. This is something she just assumes, out of a huge blind spot on her part.

    • MadScientist1023

      “As for her attempt to answer: her answer is only partial. OK, she mentions an action that atheists can’t do, and christians do. Now she needs to prove that this action actually *is moral*. This is something she just assumes, out of a huge blind spot on her part.”

      In fairness, she is in a bit of a catch-22 here. In order to prove that an action is moral to atheists, she would need to demonstrate its morality in secular terms. But any action in which the morality could be understood in secular terms is one in which atheists and Christians would behave similarly. Therefore the only way for her to actually answer it is to use an example of an action that Christians consider moral but atheists consider lacking a moral dimension. It’s not that she’s assuming anything, she’s just using her own definition of morality. Of course, as the OP points out, in relying on this, she completely undercuts the whole “objective morality” talking point.

  • Raging Bee

    Hitchens should never get away with even asking it…

    So…she can’t come up with a satisfactory answer, so she falls back on demanding that the questioner be silenced. For “insulting religion,” I guess?

    The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God—to love Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not only will no atheist ever do this, no atheist can do this.

    How is that a “high moral good?” Because she said so? There’s nothing at all difficult about doing such a thing, the object of all that worship either doesn’t exist or doesn’t really need it (or anything else) because he’s all-powerful and has no actual needs, and no real person in need is helped by it at all. How is such pointless love and worship a “high moral good?”

    Can anyone flag Amy Hall for just being embarrassingly pathetic?

  • Sastra

    I think Amy’s right when she complains that it’s logically impossible for a Christian to meet the challenge— but wrong when she concludes that this means nothing useful comes out of it. On the contrary. The underlying point isn’t just that theists and atheists can both do good, but that the shared ground of what constitutes “good” is humanistic. And what lies on the ethical field of humanism is everything that matters — kindness, fairness, love, reasonableness, charity, gratitude, honesty, and so forth. The so-called Universals.

    What’s left is the banal and petty sectarian set of rules and superstitions shared within small groups. Don’t wear purple if you’re not a king. Always throw salt over your left shoulder for good luck. It’s wrong to disagree with someone of higher caste. Try to justify these to a broader audience and you’re invoking common values and/or invoking uncommon facts. Or, possibly, just getting blank stares.

    Amy’s example of “loving God” as the highest good of all is no such thing. WHY love God? Unless she insists she has absolutely no reason to do so, she’s forced to stand on humanist ground again and speak of virtues — God is fair or loving or merciful or powerful— and we can argue that no, It’s not, or no, that’s not a virtue, or no, there is no God. And both sides understand each other regardless of the disagreement because secular values are values.

    • I think Amy’s right when she complains that it’s logically impossible for a Christian to meet the challenge

      If we have objective outsiders as judges, the problem goes away.

      she’s forced to stand on humanist ground again and speak of virtues — God is fair or loving or merciful or powerful— and we can argue that no, It’s not, or no, that’s not a virtue, or no, there is no God.

      And when atheists push back, pointing to the crazy violence in the OT, then they’ll say that God is unjudgeable. What does that do to their morals?

      • Sastra

        An “objective” judge would be the hypothetical reasonable person of good will, which means they’d be working from the common ground of both parties — which must perforce be secular ground. The flip side of Hitchens Challenge is “identify a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a NONBELIEVER that couldn’t be taken or uttered by a BELIEVER —something that only an atheist could do and a believer couldn’t.” We would say there wasn’t anything, I think. Atheism is a rational conclusion derived from the honest pursuit of truth, not an act of virtue in and of itself. And one can sincerely pursue truth and get the conclusion wrong.

        If God is “unjudgeable,” then nobody could pronounce it good or evil. Or, perhaps, the concepts no longer mean anything to anyone other than God, including the believer. That’s a pretty stiff penalty to pay just for getting out of invoking the Unknown Purpose Defense. Poor Amy is unlikely to want to pay it, since morality can’t be grounded in the air. She has to say that God is what she means by “good.”

      • Brian Curtis

        It’s amazing how often believers will hold contradictory beliefs, such as “you can’t judge God by human standards” and “God is good and loving, praise him!”

  • Philip Sieve

    I think it could be said there are people naturally wired to be good-natured, but most compromise due to our fallen nature. Eventually, especially when society is in decay, they would ask themselves why they shouldn’t murder, steal, lie, etc. to get what they need. Why should they forgive without getting anything in return? Why should they do good to others? You think those Jews from different walks of life just got together and came up with all that? They weren’t going to have power over any in the Roman empire and Jesus wasn’t overthrowing them, so there would be no self-interest in writing about that. I think a lot of self-proclaimed “Atheists” are just disappointed grown up versions of hurt children or they did not get good reasons from their church when other inner child adults posed questions like Hitchens. Yeah, some were abused or saw abuse. Christians were abused by those they loved, at least for Christ’s sake, and they kept on loving them. There is just sophistry that fell into that hole in the hearts of people like Hitchens, who judged Mother Teresa for accepting money from a bad guy (did she know he was and how many godless politicians get money from dirty bebefactors) or not getting them healed (they were untouchables). Maybe she thought the former would get graces that might heal his soul. When was the last time Atheists picked those thrown away by society off the street and cared for them? “Atheists” just love and sit in judgment over their philosophical opponents, thinking no one has something to call them out on. I think real Atheists are more like those in East Asia, that merely don’t believe, but have no ill will to believers. They don’t go ranting about a deity that claim not to believe and not ask if maybe we just did it with our free will. They don’t find company for their misery. I think you projectest too much. Look at yourselves when people do what they will. I think those societies wiped out in the OT were probably just bat-shit insane–like The Purge 24/7. With Christianity, when a Christian does something bad, you can say that this is wrong, based on an objective belief outside of one’s inclinations to merely uphold a civilization (such as loving those who hurt you, which is actually a healthy detachment from one’s ego that those who think Jesus was a rehash of prior gods or that he was taught that from Buddha had not conceived anymore than the legalistic Jewish society of his flesh’s people); that does not exist in “Atheism”.

    • Raging Bee

      I think a lot of self-proclaimed “Atheists” are just disappointed grown up versions of hurt children…

      So what makes people who believe in imaginary deities so much more “grownup” than those who don’t?

      Calling us immature doesn’t work when you can’t show yourself to be more mature than we are.

      • Philip Sieve

        Fine. Play the taking it personally card and avoid the argument about what Christianity (you say you don’t believe in deities, but you guys always seem to only attack Judeo-Christian one) offers that Atheism doesn’t, but you just illustrated your lack of objectivity that I was pointing out. It doesn’t matter if I am nature or not; you just showed immaturity, regardless. I know you don’t have to think critically when your beliefs are popular, but try, because when we stopped, it went to your court.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          An offer of lies is by definition invalid.

        • Raging Bee

          Excuse me, boy, but YOU’re the one making it personal by calling us children instead of offering any actual arguments.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you know why we “always seem to only attack the Judeo-Christian one”? Of course you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be whining about it.

          We’re all Americans, Canadians and Western Europeans here. We’re not concerned with Jains trying to make us vegans, we don’t see Sikhs telling us not to cut our hair, nary a Shintoist orders us to worship our answers. However we see lots of Christians wanting to impose their beliefs on us. Creationist Christians are trying to replace science education with teaching religious mythology. Fundamentalist Christians want desperately to deny civil rights to LGBTQs because “Gawd hates butt sechs”. Catholic bishops own 15% of all American hospitals and refuse to give contraceptive care to even non-Catholic patients because Baby Jesus cries when a woman takes the Pill.

          If you folks kept your religious practices to yourselves and stopped pushing your beliefs on us and people we care about then you wouldn’t hear anything negative about Christianity from atheists. But as long as you seek to have us under your religious thumbs then you’ll hear us tell you to keep your superstitions to yourselves.

        • The name “Sieve” is more appropriate than I initially realized.

        • Michael Neville

          Now that you mention it….

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          And *not* the good, Eratosthenes kind:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sieve_of_Eratosthenes

        • Raging Bee

          “…because when we stopped, it went to your court?” WTF does that even mean?

        • you say you don’t believe in deities, but you guys always seem to only attack Judeo-Christian one

          I live in the United States. I’ll give you one guess why the Judeo-Christian god is the one that bothers me the most.

        • Jim Jones

          Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others aren’t passing despicable laws to fluff themselves up and prove they belong to the tribe in power.

          And they aren’t pissing in public spaces with public money to do it either.

        • Dom Saunders

          And if he went to FA at all, he’d know we talk about other religions when they do awful or inhumane crap, not just Christianity. That’s the point of being an atheist: we don’t do the deity shit. We disbelieve in all of them rather equally. But does Sieve want to do any research before he talks his shit? No.

    • Raging Bee

      …Hitchens, who judged Mother Teresa for accepting money from a bad guy…

      Um, no, he judged her for FAR worse things than that. You’d know this if you were mature enough to handle the documented truth.

    • Anthrotheist

      I can’t help but suggest that in any exposition in which a person makes a bold claim, such as “a lot of self-proclaimed “Atheists” are . . . grown up versions of . . . children”, some essential signs of the author’s maturity would be necessary for any amount of credibility. Examples might include: the use of paragraphs to organize one’s thoughts; refraining from pop-culture references to make a point, particularly when that reference would be to an intellectually vapid film that many mature adults would likely never bother watching; and concluding one’s thoughts in a more comprehensible manner than joining a short paragraph’s worth of concepts into a single disjointed sentence with an unnecessarily long and intrusive parenthetical.

    • I think a lot of self-proclaimed “Atheists” are just disappointed grown up versions of hurt children

      And I think a lot of self-proclaimed Christians are grown-up versions of children crying for a parent. Having no one to make it all better is too hard to imagine, and God becomes the cosmic parent to lean on.

      Read about Wm. Lane Craig’s motivation for Christianity—he was afraid of dying. That’s it.
      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/04/is-life-absurd-without-god-a-reply-to-wlcs-influential-article/

    • Sastra

      Why should they forgive without getting anything in return? Why should they do good to others?

      Consider;
      Either these questions are about the value of selfless love, peace, and harmony found in God — or they are about acquiring something material, like power, life, or safety from something which can take those things away. Those are basically it: you crave God because you love what is good, or you follow God because it’s in your material self-interest to do so.

      If it’s the first one, then your ultimate value isn’t God; God embodies the values you care about. An atheist could care for the same values. We could then both say that forgiveness and kindness are worthwhile for their own sake. We’re on the same ground regardless of whether God exists or not.

      If it’s the second one, then you can’t claim a higher moral ground. You forgive people so you won’t get hit, or so you have a seat in heaven, or some nonmoral reason like that. If God promised eternal life for doing the exact opposite — treating others with cruelty and unfairness— your motivation for following God doesn’t change. But something like that would be a big problem if you’re in group #1.

      When atheists charge the concept of God or God’s self proclaimed followers with cruelty and unfairness, it’s because we — like you — are in group #1. We’re just bickering over whether 1.) God exists and 2.) if it does, it’s not living up to — or motivating towards — the common standards.

      • TheNuszAbides

        … We’re on the same ground regardless of whether God exists or not.

        thank you for articulating valid motivations and categories here, instead of playing into any of Sieve’s misguided [at best] rhetoric.

    • Joe

      I think those societies wiped out in the OT were probably just bat-shit insane-

      Or maybe they weren’t, but were wiped out anyway.

      • Raging Bee

        Or maybe they were playing by Christ’s rules, and got wiped out by people who weren’t.

    • Greg G.

      I think those societies wiped out in the OT were probably just bat-shit insane

      Egyptian archaeology shows that the Hebrews were never in Egypt in large numbers. If a third of the population, the primary work force, walked out of Egypt, the place would have collapsed but they remained a world power during that time.

      The Sinai Desert has been searched for a century by Christian and Jewish archaeologists. If a few million people were there for forty years, there would be massive amounts of evidence. Researchers should be tripping over artifacts. That has not been found.

      Israeli archaeology has found many sites around that were around when the Hebrews were supposed to have been annihilating them. They show no cultural disruption as if one civilization had replaced another. What they find are very similar settlements with the same culture except that some have pig bones and some do not.

      The archaeology is consistent with the Hebrews being Canaanites with a few different religious practices.

      So it is just the OT stories that are bat-shit insane.

      • Researchers should be tripping over artifacts.

        Fossilized turds. Millions created per day times 40 years.

        I shudder at the computation.

        • Greg G.

          There should be coprolite from the manna eaters. Something like that might be incontrovertible proof of God.

    • Otto

      Speaking of bat shit insane…is this paragraph an accurate representation of how your mind works?

    • katiehippie

      It’s easy to knock down straw man atheists, amIright? I’ve not been hurt or abused by a church. I just know it’s not true.

    • Michael Neville

      I think a lot of self-proclaimed “Atheists” are just disappointed grown up versions of hurt children or they did not get good reasons from their church when other inner child adults posed questions like Hitchens.

      You obviously know few if any atheists and have never talked with any of us, or if you have talked you’ve never listened. I am not an atheist because I was abused as a child, I wasn’t. Nor am I an atheist because I want to live a hedonistic lifestyle, I don’t. Nor am I an atheist because that’s what all the cool kids are doing, I am the antithesis of cool. Contrary to your belief, I, like most atheists, see no evidence to support the existence of gods (remember there’s more than the sadistic thug you fancy). Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      a lot of this has already been addressed but just on Mother Teressa, Hithchens did not just call her out for accepting money from questionable sources, he called her out for being a moral monster who believed that suffering was good for the poor because it brought them closer to god, refused them basic medication and kept them in frankly hellish conditions, but traveled internationally to the best hospitals when she required aid.

      vast amounts of the money that was donated to her is still unaccounted for, the one place it definitely didn’t go was to helping the needy

      • A helpful clarification. My understanding is that a minimum of the donations were used to run the homes for the sick and needy, and the rest went to Rome. I’ve heard $100M/year (presumably as a peak figure).

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          i would not be surprised, but equally with all that cash and no oversight i am guessing some nuns / brothers made out like bandits

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Try E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E.

      I just see a lot of unsupported petulant assertions.

    • Doubting Thomas

      Your post is basically one giant admission that even though you’ve never really talked to “Atheists” you have no problem making up shit about them.

    • Jim Jones

      “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible “historical figures.” Virtually the last archaeological word was written by me more than 20 years ago for a basic handbook of biblical studies, Israelite and Judean History. And, as we have seen, archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus has similarly been discarded as a fruitless pursuit. Indeed, the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness.”

      — William Dever (a post-war biblical archaeologist with a Disciples of Christ education who later studied at Harvard and led hundreds of students on dozens of excavations all over Israel. This was his comment after a lifetime of study and first-hand exploration of the biblical lands).

      William Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It? (p.98-99)

      William Dever, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (pp.46-47)

  • epicurus

    How the heck did ancient Greece and Rome function before Christianity showed up?
    How did China function before Judaism, or Japan before christian missionaries showed up. Was it all chaos and stealing and pillaging in everyone’s everyday life? Somehow they still figured out interpersonal ethics without a Judeo Christian god.

    • Joe

      Was it all chaos and stealing and pillaging in everyone’s everyday life?

      Even if that were true, I haven’t yet seen a theist explain the violence perpetrated by Christians.

    • Greg G.

      Exodus says Moses murdered an Egyptian. He ran away for forty years, then came back to lead the Exodus out of Egypt and received the commandments along the way. Why? Did the Egyptians already have a law against murder before God gave them?

    • al kimeea

      The existence of other cultures during the holey xian timeline was one of the WTF moments while slogging through the BuyBull, a book where the action is centred on a rather small, otherwise insignificant, region and involves only an handful of the cultures available for any deity to manipulate.

      • epicurus

        I’ve read the Christian world was quite shocked during the age of exploration to encounter cultures like China that were civilized and advanced because Christianity just assumed that with no Bible, nothing beyond hogs wallowing in the mud was possible for humanity.

    • Rudy R

      More to the point, why did Jews consider murder and stealing wrong before receiving the Ten Commandments?

      • epicurus

        Jesus!

      • Incest is wrong now, but it wasn’t when Adam and Eve’s sons banged their sisters to create humanity.

        • TinnyWhistler

          Or their mom. There’s no reason that’s off the table.

  • Milo C

    Usually when this morality argument comes up between a theist and atheist, they are using different terms for morality and fail to see any common ground. As you imply, most humanists view morality as good being that which promotes life and common welfare, whereas theists have morality defined for them according to… no particular qualities except how god(s) declared it should be. When a theist encounters this inequity in their own lives, it can cause cognitive dissonance, and sometimes investigation and a change of mind. That’s a miracle.

    • Brian Curtis

      “Morality is doing what’s right, regardless of what you’re told. Religion is doing what you’re told, regardless of what’s right.”

  • skl

    “[Worshipping/obeying god] is an odd definition of morality
    that has nothing to do with doing good to living beings…”

    But a christian would say god is a living being, and the ultimate source of life itself.

    “… but I guess Christians can define their dogma as they
    choose. And that’s the point: this is dogma specific to Christians. Our
    objective, unbiased third party judges would reject this.”

    Which I think may prove Amy Hall’s point.

    One other possible answer to the challenge:
    Christians are expected to love their enemies and do good to those who hate them.

    • Sastra

      Sometimes it’s a good idea to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you — and sometimes it isn’t. It depends on the circumstances. I think even Christians will grant that.

    • Raging Bee

      But a christian would say god is a living being, and the ultimate source of life itself.

      Which is no more relevant than most of the shit “a Christian would say.”

    • Raging Bee

      Christians are expected to love their enemies and do good to those who hate them.

      And atheists also understand there’s merit to this idea: having compassion for your enemies allows you to better understand them, and doing good to them can (at least sometimes) go a long way toward making peace and diminishing the hate. (When us secular liberals try to apply this principle in policy-making, we get called commies, pussies and appeasers by the True Christians who claim to have invented the principle.)

      So the challenge is still unanswered. Care to try again?

    • Damien Priestly

      So all you have done — is actually list immoral things Christians do.

    • Jim Jones

      Define ‘god’.

  • Worshiping God is the pinnacle of morality? Interesting. I always thought that when powerful beings compel week or beings to worship them, it was evil.

    Isn’t that the basis of a huge percentage of human stories? Don’t we all have the aphorism of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? But we have to make an exception for this one being because he made us according to the myth.

    One of the major events that prompted my shift from Christianity to atheism was realizing that God sounds like a cheap comic book villain.

    “Bow before me or suffer an eternity of torment,” is not something a moral being would say. Yet it is the ultimate basis of Christianity, and other religions too.

    • Edited because it cut me off and I had to finish.

    • A man-child like Trump loves worship. An all-wise god wouldn’t.

  • Joe

    Hitchens thinks the Christian is saying] that without God, we couldn’t know right from wrong, when the actual objection is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong

    My main issue with theistic objective morality is that it takes all moral reasoning from the agents, and all significance from the actions and consequences. If the above was true, then the very same action that is moral in god’s universe would be immoral in a godless one. No thought to what the action entailed, or what “good” was achieved.

    This renders objective morality completely arbitrary. Murder and theft could just as easily be moral, if those were in “god’s nature”.

    • According to the Bible, murder and theft are prominent parts of God’s nature. After all he championed both on multiple occasions. From the mundane (Jacob stealing Esau’s birth right and earning a blessings from it) to the horrifying (divinely sanctioned mass murder in conquest). And of course, in the mythology, God himself killed untold millions during the flood, and the first born children of Egypt, mouthy bear bait who insulted a prophet and many more.

      That’s why I always laugh when Christians talk about having objective morality; the morality presented in the Bible is entirely subjective, and just plain cruel.

      • Joe

        I do, on occasion, ask them to turn their “objective morality” to the god of the Bible, but I don’t usually have much luck with that line of questioning.

    • Boo Kian

      Yes. Many Christian friends believe that anything is justifiable in the of their God, including war and genocide.it scares me

    • Brian Curtis

      That’s the Euthyphro Dilemma, I think. It takes humans out of the equation as moral agents and reduces them to trained beasts, responding to the carrot and stick to drive behavior.

      A friend of mine put it this way: “The Bible doesn’t provide morality; it provides rules. Actual morality requires judgment.”

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        A friend of mine put it this way: “The Bible doesn’t provide morality; it provides rules. Actual morality requires judgment.”

        That’s why they’re called the 10 Commandments and not the 10 Morals, or the 10 Values. &#128521

        • Greg G.

          Or the 10 Guidelines and definitely not the 10 Suggestions.

        • Michael Neville

          The 10 Do The Best You Cans.

      • Yes, morality vs. rules is a useful distinction.

      • Joe

        It’s not quite the Euthyphro dilemma, though it would eventually lead to that.

        I do try to press this point on theists, who tend to use moral reasoning instinctively, while all the while proclaiming god-derived objective morality. If say, abortion, is immoral, what does the fate of the “baby” matter? It would simply be an immoral act no matter what.

  • Anri

    May I ask how an unbiased observer would determine that sincerely worshiping god is not a moral action and therefore not a valid answer?
    To be specific, how would they progress from determining it is a possible answer to determining it is not a possible answer?

    • May I ask how an unbiased observer would determine that sincerely worshiping god is not a moral action and therefore not a valid answer?

      Let’s be precise: the claim is that worshipping Yahweh, the Christian god, is the ultimate good.

      This is a custom specific to (and only to) Christianity. Are you saying that this sounds like a candidate for an objectively good action? It doesn’t to me.

      • Anri

        Yes, I understand the specific claim made in the quote.
        I’m asking a somewhat broader question.

        Were a theist to say that sincerely worshiping god – whatever god – were merely a moral act that a theist could perform that an atheist could not, could that be considered a credible answer and thus answer the stated challenge?

        • No, I don’t think so. I could say that eating slugs was a moral act from my perspective, but it would be ruled invalid by the objective judge. To me that might be moral, but that is not a compelling argument that this belief should be binding on all other people.

          Same with any specific customs/beliefs from a believer.

        • Anri

          How about comforting a believer with genuine shared faith?
          The “dying grandmother” bit – comforting a non-threatening believer by agreeing with them that you will be with them after death?
          A theist could assert that honestly (regardless of accuracy), while an atheist could not.
          I would personally argue that a lie on the part of the atheist might be a perfectly moral act (as the alternative seems needlessly cruel), but making such an comforting assertion honestly and sincerely is something only a theist could do.

          I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate here, as a thought experiment. If I’m being obnoxious about it, let me know and I’ll lay off.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          so lying to a believer is OK because, in this specific example, their is no way they will ever know you where lying, doesn’t sound very moral to me, that sounds like the worst kind of utilitarian ethics. Surely, in this situation, the tactful atheist would choose to say nothing or to support the believers right to believe, without validating the accuracy of the truth claim.

          Don’t get me wrong, in the moment the desire to comfort a hurting fellow human often does, and should, over rule airy thoughts about moral rights and wrongs

          As a question, would you think the same of a believer who wants to comfort an atheist in a similar situation? Should the believer claim the atheist will see there loved one again, despite knowing that belief is not shared? or would the moral thing be to deny their beliefs?

        • Anri

          Your first two paragraphs appear to contradict one another. In the first, you seem to say it is best to not lie to comfort someone, and then in the next, you seem to say that concerns about truth should be overridden to comfort the dying. Which is it?

          As for your question, were a dying atheist to irrationally ask their theist friend/loved one if they believed they were bound for eternal hell, I’d certainly hope the theist would lie and say no.
          Would the opposite answer be superior, in your opinion?
          (Remember, even saying “I don’t know” would be a comforting lie – the theist is internally quite certain of the fate of unbelievers.)

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          My first paragraph is an attempt to actually analyse the question, the second is intended to be a recognition of the actual response that a humane person would give.

          given that morality is subjective, not objective, it is always going to be possible to come up with situations where the moral thing to do would be immoral in another situation, lying to a dying person may be moral if it eases their pain, lying to a dying person to get into their will is not. i would like the think that the tactful atheist response i gave threads the needle between being true to ones own morals while minimizing the harm to others.

          Your response to my question makes no sense, the scenario is where an atheist is grieving fro a dead grandmother and theist is attempting to offer condolences, should they tell the atheist that it’s all fine because they will see that person in the afterlife, because they believe that to be true, or should they deny their beliefs? i know someone telling me that i would see my mother again would enrage me not comfort me, regardless of the intent behind their words.

        • Anri

          i would like the think that the tactful atheist response i gave threads the needle between being true to ones own morals while minimizing the harm to others.

          And it seems that you and I merely disagree about the relative importance of these things.
          That’s fine.

          i know someone telling me that i would see my mother again would enrage me not comfort me, regardless of the intent behind their words.

          Yes, an uncomforting response to a request for comfort is bad.
          I was contrasting two situations in which the response was actually comforting, but went against the respondant’s beliefs. They seem highly analogous to me.

        • epeeist

          The “dying grandmother” bit – comforting a non-threatening believer by agreeing with them that you will be with them after death?

          My father was a Trotskyite and an atheist. When he died we gave him a Catholic burial since his mother, a devout Catholic, was still alive. Were we wrong to do so?

          The priest who took the service was extremely unpleasant with regards to my father’s political beliefs and his attitude towards religion. Was it morally right not to deck him after the funeral given that he upset both my mother and my aunt with his remarks?

        • Anri

          My father was a Trotskyite and an atheist. When he died we gave him a Catholic burial since his mother, a devout Catholic, was still alive. Were we wrong to do so?

          I would say not, as funerals are for the living. Afterlife or not, the dead are beyond caring.

          The priest who took the service was extremely unpleasant with regards to my father’s political beliefs and his attitude towards religion. Was it morally right not to deck him after the funeral given that he upset both my mother and my aunt with his remarks?

          The priest was in the wrong to use the dead to hurt the living.
          Not assaulting him was probably the right choice, though. Pointing out he was being an unmitigated asshole to the bereaved would have been sufficient for a decent human being. If he weasn’t one, punching him wouldn’t have made him one.

        • Michael Neville

          Did anyone explain to Fr. Grandarse that funerals are supposed to be comforting to the survivors and denigrating the deceased does not help in this endeavor?

        • epeeist

          As I have said before on this board, my father’s side of the family is Catholic. I have been to a number of Catholic funerals over the years, comforting the survivors or contemplating the life of the deceased has never been part of the ceremony. The aim has always been to sell more Jesus.

          It was made very clear to the priest after the funeral that he would not be welcome at the Wake.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          It wouldn’t be lying by saying that the grandmother’s earthly troubles are over and she’s at peace.

        • Anri

          Of course – but that’s not what she’s asking. She’s explicitly saying she’s not at peace thinking you’re damned.

          Don’t get me wrong – I think granny would, intentionally or not, be exerting significant emotional pressure here. As such, I think it could be viewed as agreement under duress and thus not binding.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          When she’s dead she wouldn’t think anything. She’ll be at peace and her earthly troubles are over.

        • Anri

          I don’t think I’m disputing that, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant.

          We seem to be getting rather off of the point, which is that I would contend that a theist could offer comfort that is:
          1) faith-based (regardless of the details of the specific faith)
          2) successful (recognizing that unsuccessful comfort is often worse than no comfort at all)
          3) sincere (in that, the faith aspects of it are honestly expressed).

          An atheist could offer successful sincere non-faith-based comfort, or successful insincere faith-based comfort (and anyone can, unfortunately, offer unsuccessful comfort), but not comfort that is all of the above.
          If we can agree that successful comfort is a moral act, then there is a sub-class of successful comfort that cannot be offered by anyone but a theist, thus answering Hitchens’ challenge.

          I’m not saying it’s accurate, or in any way superior, I’m merely saying it exists.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Not really. Not all atheists are non-religious and there are non theistic religions such as Buddhism and some Chinese folk religions. Not all atheists reject the supernatural, just god(s). A theist could also offer a successful sincere non-faith-based comfort as well as a successful insincere faith-based comfort.

          Theists are not above lying, as reality shows.

        • Anri

          …there are non theistic religions such as Buddhism and some Chinese folk religions.

          Can we agree, then, that although there are some specific examples (and I would argue that although modern western concepts of Buddhism are often conceived as atheistic, Buddhism as generally practiced is as deity-specific theistic as most other religions), there are far more instances in which an atheist could not sincerely comfort a theist in their faith profession or confirmation, while a theist could?

          A theist could also offer a successful sincere non-faith-based comfort as well as a successful insincere faith-based comfort.

          Um, yes, the challenge wasn’t what they both could do, it was what the theist could do that the atheist couldn’t.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Can we agree, then, that although there are some specific examples (and I
          would argue that although modern western concepts of Buddhism are often
          conceived as atheistic, Buddhism as generally practiced is as
          deity-specific theistic as most other religions), there are far more
          instances in which an atheist could not sincerely comfort a theist in
          their faith profession or confirmation, while a theist could?

          Perhaps, but so what? That’s another question for another goalpost.

          Um, yes, the challenge wasn’t what they both could do, it was what the theist could do that the atheist couldn’t.

          And many atheists would beat this challenge. End of story.

        • Anri

          That’s another question for another goalpost.

          I guess I was under the impression that the challenge was to give an example of a moral act that could be performed by a theist but not an atheist. Did I misunderstand? Is this not exactly such an example?

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          You said:

          We seem to be getting rather off of the point, which is that I would contend that a theist could offer comfort that is:
          1) faith-based (regardless of the details of the specific faith)
          2) successful (recognizing that unsuccessful comfort is often worse than no comfort at all)
          3) sincere (in that, the faith aspects of it are honestly expressed).

          An atheist could offer successful sincere non-faith-based comfort, or successful insincere faith-based comfort (and anyone can, unfortunately, offer unsuccessful comfort), but not comfort that is all of the above.
          If
          we can agree that successful comfort is a moral act, then there is a
          sub-class of successful comfort that cannot be offered by anyone but a
          theist, thus answering Hitchens’ challenge.

          And I disagreed by saying that a religious atheist who has believes in the supernatural could meet these challenges. You then shifted the goalposts from saying no atheist would meet the challenge to saying most atheists won’t meet the challenge. And I say the fact that most atheists won’t meet the challenge is irrelevant to the fact that many atheists would meet the challenge.

        • Anri

          And I say the fact that most atheists won’t meet the challenge is
          irrelevant to the fact that many atheists would meet the challenge.

          No, what I said was that no atheist could meet the challenge if the faith involved was specifically a theistic one.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          No, that’s not what you said. You said faith-based belief. The faith involving a theistic one is your goalpost shift.

        • Anri

          We can call it a goalpost shift if you like… are you saying that it doesn’t meet the challenge as put forward by Hitchens?

          Edit:
          To clarify, I thought it was implicit in my agreement that there were some religions that an atheist could sincerely join in comforting someone with made it clear that there were some an atheist could not and therefore met the challenge as outlined in the OP.

          I apologize if that wasn’t clear enough.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Again, it was you who initially said that no atheist can meet these challenges. I said otherwise. Then you shifted the goalposts by saying atheists to some atheists and from faith-based belief to theistic belief.

        • Anri

          Please explain how an atheist can sincerely profess faith in a theistic religion, because apparently I’m not understanding you here.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Why? Your OP didn’t address theistic religion but faith-based belief Your words:

          1) faith-based (regardless of the details of the specific faith)
          2) successful (recognizing that unsuccessful comfort is often worse than no comfort at all)
          3) sincere (in that, the faith aspects of it are honestly expressed)

          Where in your post is theistic religion?

          And if you’re basically saying that an atheist cannot be a theist, then it would make the challenge completely meaningless.

        • Anri

          Ok, I’m really trying to explain that I’m working on this based on feedback.

          I got that the blanket faith-based isn’t specific enough.
          So, I specifically changed it to theistic when you pointed out faith-based wasn’t sufficient.

          Yes, faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough.
          Yes, faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough.
          Yes, faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough.

          Have I said that faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough for you to get that I understand that faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough?

          I am seeing if i can come up with an answer to the the OP – that’s the Original Post in the thread, not my first post – the challenge by Hitchens,. Thank you for pointing out to me that faith-based was not sufficiently narrow enough to answer that challenge. Wanna know what I learned in talking with you? That faith-based wasn’t sufficiently narrow enough.

          You’re not stupid, so I must be explaining things very poorly indeed here.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Alright, good. Glad we finally understand each other.

        • Anri

          Sorry for the rant. It was late, and I was tired and frustrated.

          What I’m saying seems reasonably clear to me, but I’m obviously not making it clear to anyone else. In any case, thanks for engaging.

        • Otto

          I don’t think the atheist lying to grandmother or the theist that happens to share grandma’s beliefs are more or less moral than the other.

          I like devil’s advocate questions and I think you present an interesting question.

        • Kevin K

          Might depend on what you define a “moral act” as. We could be getting into circular reasoning here, where a moral act is defined as an act that pleases the gods.

        • Anri

          As opposed to pleasing other people?

        • Otto

          I would need to hear the rational for the claim. Just saying ‘worshiping a god is a moral act’ doesn’t make it so. I think it would be rather easy to show that there are at least some instances where that statement is false, i.e. worshiping gods is not in and of itself a moral act. There could be instances where it is moral, or at least not immoral, but that wouldn’t make the statement true.

        • Anri

          Fair enough.

  • sandy

    “The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God—to love Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

    The God of the bible is a monster and prick with ample evidence to prove it. Worshipping a jealous, genocidal, homophobic bully is not moral by any standard. This argument fails.

    • Michael Neville

      This is my thought as well. Christian propaganda describes their god as a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people just because he can. He orders genocide and sexual slavery. He condones rape and chattel slavery. He’s a thoroughly immoral critter who doesn’t deserve worship.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Worship of anything fails as a moral imperative. Even more so on behalf of the thing accepting the worship.

    • Kevin K

      Quetzalcoatl is the living, true sovereign god…one should worship him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, especially while holding the still-beating heart of your enemy on the jade altar of sacrifice.

      • Greg G.

        By the time I got to “one should worship him with all one’s heart”, I was already thinking “plus all of someone else’s heart”.

        • Kevin K

          Ha!

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    If theists wish to believe objective morality exists and is reliant upon the sole purview of their chosen God, I have no problem with that. However, the only way they could prove that it exists is for their choice of God to actually appear and indulge us with its omni-whatever wisdom – and so far that hasn’t been the case. Only self-proclaimed prophets claim that hubris. Once the theist accepts the onus to argue the existence of objective morality, it becomes reduced to relative morality, reliant on interpretation from an evolved ape.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I don’t se how even a demonstration of god validates anything.

      For instance, if it could be shown that a creator god exists and it grounds our morality somehow, what does that actually tell us? That its nature is actually good? How? How could we discern between a creator god that is good and a flawed one that our compasses are designed to read as being good?

      Near as I can tell, “grounding” morality in this manner makes it even less knowable. We can judge alignment with the source, but no more.

      Presumably someone will accuse me of conflating moral ontology with epistemology. But this is precisely the point; the added ontological foundation neither makes morality less subjective or more knowable. It’s a colossal failure of a solution.

      • Raging Bee

        And how would one even show that this creator god “grounds our morality” anyway? Even if he created us as we are, along with the rest of the Universe, that doesn’t negate the fact that we’re able to think for ourselves, and pretty much can’t help figuring out questions of right vs. wrong on our own steam anyway. What, exactly, does “grounds our morality” even mean? “Might makes might so shut up that’s why!” may override our moral actions, but it doesn’t cancel out our thoughts, reasoning and conclusions — so “grounds our morality” has to be more than that.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Fundies want there to be moral ‘laws’ that match the existing *physical* laws that we can demonstrate and that power learning and knowledge.

        • Raging Bee

          But failing that, they’ll happily settle for “Might makes right so shut up that’s why!”

      • Thanks4AllTheFish

        I agree; the abject failure of any argument about virtually anything including morality, good, evil, etc. is that it is relative to our own perception.

  • eric

    …the actual objection is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong

    This is IMO not a valid argument as Hitchen’s isn’t demanding the theist prove some objective moral rule exists. He’s only asking them to name some act the people in the argument would consider to be a normative one – an ought rather than an is – that atheists can’t or won’t do.

    There might be certain acts that only theists would recognize as being moral. Atheists, not recognizing those acts as being good, would not attempt to do them as moral acts…[a good example:] The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God

    I have no issue with a theist answering the challenge this way. It’s very unlikely to convince a nonbeliever, however, and I think most theists know that. That’s why most will probably avoid citing such a ‘moral act’ as an example.* But by all means, if they want to answer the challenge this way, let them. If the only or strongest moral act they can think of that atheists can’t do is “worship my God in my certain way,” let’s face it, even they are probably going to admit this is not a very strong counter.

    *And I think this shows at least some minimal, subconscious or unacknowledged recognition of the outsider test of faith. The Christian knows that a believer from another religion citing their worship practices as ‘a moral act Christians can’t or won’t do’ wouldn’t convince the Christian that morality is inaccessible to Christians, and they know if they cite their own worship practices, it’s going to sound equally weak to non-Christians.

    • Otto

      >>>”I have no issue with a theist answering the challenge this way.”

      You can correct my thinking on the subject, but I do have a problem in that all she is doing is arguing that she defines a ‘moral good’ as worshiping Jesus…I don’t consider that a moral good…at best it is amoral, and I would even argue to some extent it is morally bad. I agree if you are saying that to her it is morally good, but that is just her opinion and there is no reason to for me accept that moral opinion as it is not sound. IMO what Hitchens was getting at is that any generally accepted notion of morality that co-exists between different faiths and cultures (and non-faiths) is not theistic specific…no faith is required or even helps concerning those agreed upon morals. To me what she is saying is no different than if a child abuser would argue as to why abusing children is in their opinion a moral good. If she can just define her religious practice as moral good, I can just define it as amoral, or even evil.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        i agree, surely this is a immoral argument, there is no net good for worshiping such a being, and indeed i would question the motives of the worshiper, either the worship is unasked for in which case there is literally no good from it, or it is rewarded, in which case the motivation is not moral good but purely mercenary. an accusation that christians really hate having leveled at them but i have yet to see them actually rebut

      • eric

        The point I was making was: if the counter-example the Christian comes up with is a not generally accepted notion of morality that co-exists between different faiths, then their argument isn’t going to convince any non-christian…and most of them know this. So let them answer that way if that’s the best they can do, because their best isn’t going to be good enough.

        An analogy: if your opponent’s best answer to “what’s 2+2” is “Ducks like to quack!”, let them answer that way. It’s not likely to convince the crowd of their position.

    • Kevin K

      And, of course, what Christians refuse to acknowledge is that they see god-worship as a moral wrong — if that god is not their specific deity. Brahma, et al. Even different flavors of their deity, aka, Allah.

  • Damien Priestly

    The act of worshiping is actually immoral. No good is done, yet someone is submissive for no apparent reason. That is immoral.

    The fact that this idiot Christian is still trying to answer Hitchens a decade later…shows how Hitch long ago won the argument !!

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      The fact that this idiot Christian is still trying to answer Hitchens a
      decade later…shows how Hitch long ago won the argument !!

      To be fair, Amy Hall’s response was September 8, 2008 – a decade ago. https://str.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/hitchenss-chall.html

      • Damien Priestly

        OK, my bad…Hitch still is right !!

  • Boo Kian

    There were great civilisations with law and order and morals and Gods and Trinities and Resurrection before the Jews came along. Sumerian Babylonians Egyptians etc. These morals possibly go back even earlier as far back as to Hunter gatherer tribes.

    • There are lots of supernatural ruling duals–brother/sister gods or husband/wife–but I can’t think of any trinities. The Christian Trinity has struck me as being unique–3 dudes. Husband/wife is a natural option but not 3 rulers.

      • Greg G.

        The Three Stooges. The Three Amigos, aka A Dangerous Caravan.

        • Now that’s thinking outside the box! I never thought of the Three Stooges as deities, but that’s probably an oversight on my part.

        • TheNuszAbides

          clearly your heart had been hardened against the possibility … until now?

  • Boo Kian

    The difference between a Christian and an atheist is that the former expects a reward in the after life in heaven for his good deeds whilst the latter is focused on this life and this world

    • sandy

      Don’t forget that the Christian also expects punishment (hell) for those not worshipping their god or acting in a way not up to their standards.

      • Philip Sieve

        Why are you Atheist people so negative? Those who really followed their faith, like St, Francis, truly lived free of about all the emotional baggage that bogs down most us Christians and Atheists.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          dafuq?

        • Michael Neville

          So you’re saying the vast majority of Christians don’t really follow their faith.

        • Philip Sieve

          I admit. Too many of us just go to church, if at all. Sports, other entertainment, and family are often given the attention due Him. It’s a difficult set of teachings, though. It’s easier to do things legalistically than loving your “neighbor,” when the neighbor is a jerk or volunteering. Doing right is not easy. There’s divine accountability, there, for those who fail not caring if they fail or not, but great rewards in this life and the next for those who do. BTW. Most look favorably upon St. Francis and Mother Teresa. I think Atheists are on borrowed charity from the millennia of patrimony of Christian charity and it’s arts, sciences, and law it brought the world.

          It makes one better adjusted, if there is strong faith involved. People of religion, in general, survive hardships better. If you believe in survival of the fittest, you would have to say we are at least fitter than non-believers.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Utter gibberish.

        • sandy

          “There’s divine accountability,” you just proved my point. BTW, due some research on Mother Teresa as you don’t know what you’re talking about. Faith, belief without evidence, is a weakness not a strength. as it opens you up to be susceptible of being conned, as you obviously have been. Again, do some due diligence on Mother Teresa. Even she became disgusted with herself and lost her faith.

        • Philip Sieve

          She had a dark night of the soul, though she was likely thinking more freely than those who call themselves “free thinkers”, as they don’t seem to really question their beliefs. Even if “free thinkers” used to be Christian, you don’t stop there. You question the scientific community. You question academia. It’s a process of thonking; not a conclusion. Of course, you would end up with anomie with nothing to fill the hole. Mother Teresa had faith flowing through her, or she would not have kept doing her thing. She had a moring, from which she could reboot her faith. Miracles arrested to by non-believing and disinterested scientists, such as at Lourdes, helps, but is unnecessary. A bunch of Jewish guys from different walks of life don’t make up what Christ said about charity and would not die for one they probably thought was going to lead a supernatural military rebellion against Rome, but didn’t.
          Her muscle memory kind of faith is probably why Atheists do any good or have any hope and have ridden on the coattails of Christian thinking of thousands of years, which borrowed from what did not contradict its teaching from the Jewish faith it evolved from and certain philosophies of the pre-Christian Gentile ones. They could have discarded it all, but really they have just wanted a foil to rebel against. Christianity is really just a parent that lives its bratty children, but might misapply tough love in human personal fallibility

          Well, there are now copies of copies of non-believers since the so-called “Enlightenment” and the quality of argument has been reduced from Atheist philosophies, like Voltairee’s and Feuerbach’s to “defuq?” and thoughtless gainsaying like “utter gibberish”. Nice. Well, at least you had some counterargument. I would say Christianity is bound to arise, but I fear it still needs to be disabused of worldly thinking amongst its ranks. I believe the occultists just needed people to give up their faith so they will come to believe anything, as G. K. Chesterton foresaw. I think the scientific community will be their high priests. They, who have set themselves up as our source of knowledge of things, already have us the phony Piltdown Man, embryonic stem cell “therapy”, and, now, holographic illusions. No. They would never lie to us for power, like they have us believe churches do.
          That anything will be anything but Christianity. It could be aliens, beings from below the Earth or whatever else they might be able to conjure or fake by technology. Well, God has righted The Church times before, as he used to right the faith of the Old Testament before it and it will come back to clean up it’s mess and everyone else’s–or it might be a corrective divine chastisement. If not for either, more will die more than an earthly death of their own making or sonewhat that of an abuser or manipulator.

        • Philip Sieve

          I don’t mean to insult, but I nerd out in intellectual frustration–especially when commenters are being smug.

        • sandy

          No insult taken but you are all over the place.

        • The issue is more the question of arguments. What do you believe, and why should we believe it?

        • sandy

          Philip Sieve, what you wrote was really hard to understand and I’m being kind. Not sure what point you were making but perhaps you may have had one too many drinks?

        • Philip Sieve

          I know it will be hard, but you might, one day. Try G.K. Chesterton. Like Reagan, he phrased things much more skillfully and charitably. He was all kind of disbelievers at previous times in his life. You might need one with footnotes. Some of his references are from late 19th to early 20th century England. You might have your faith in no faith severely challenged.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          More assertion.

          If you want to convince, *summarize* the theses of those who you wish us to read, and do so in a fashion to make it attractive to attempt reading them for something other than a hilarious fisk.

        • epeeist

          Have you read Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories? It is usually pretty easy to spot the villain, it is usually the atheist what done it.

        • Raging Bee

          You’re comparing Chesterton to someone who’s been proven dead wrong about virtually everything? That’s not exactly a good reason to bother with him.

        • Dom Saunders

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6c781ac77ed360bec01e00d21bf7dc14baf48693cd5704eb474a97197c40edb.gif

          Been an atheist for almost 20 years because even as an eight year old, I realized religion was crap and god wasn’t any different from the imaginary friend I used to entertain when I was like four. Barring visual, self-demonstrating evidence of a god’s existence, you’re not going to challenge my lack of faith by giving me obscure references and words from yet another dead white guy who lived well and long after the events of the Bible or any of its related materials.

        • Greg G.

          Replying to http://disq.us/p/1x75ze8

          Mother Teresa had faith flowing through her

          Mather Teresa’s faith made her think that unnecessary suffering was good. She let dying people suffer. She milked the charity of people who thought she was helping those poor people. She sent the donations to Rome where they ran ad campaigns in Africa saying that condoms caused AIDS, which made the problem more severe.

          A bunch of Jewish guys from different walks of life don’t make up what Christ said about charity and would not die for one they probably thought was going to lead a supernatural military rebellion against Rome, but didn’t.

          That’s pretty much what they did, except the “dying for a lie” is apparently a lie. It seems to have been in vogue to have an apostolic succession to a church and that their apostle had a noble death, so they would make up a one. Consequently, some of the apostles have more than one noble death.

          Matthew not only died a peaceful death in Ethiopia, he was also killed by a sword in Parthia, and he was burned alive in an unnamed city.

          Simon the Zealot died by crucifixion in Britain, then died by crucifixion in Samaria, and was sawn in half in Persia. Or maybe he was sawn in half first, then crucified in the other two places. Yeah, that makes more sense. A tradition also claims he died peacefully at Edessa.

          Jude was crucified in Turkey and was sawn in half with Simon the Zealot.

          Bartholomew is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to one account, he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward.

          According to one account, through a miraculous healing and his preaching Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside-down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip’s preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. Another legend is that he was martyred by beheading in the city of Hierapolis.

          Well, there are now copies of copies of non-believers

          Irrelevant. Many atheists here are ex-Christians who were never influenced by atheist writers. It was Christian writings and the Bible itself that made us that way, just from looking at it with an open mind.

          Scratch the surface on Mother Teresa and Noble Martyrs and it gets really ugly. But there are many other surfaces in religion that should be scratched.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Mother Teresa had faith flowing through her, or she would not have kept doing her thing

          I thought you were saying faith was a good thing?

        • eric

          Yes, what horrible people we are to give most of our attention to our families [eye roll].

          There’s divine accountability, there, for those who fail not caring if they fail or not, but great rewards in this life and the next for those who do.

          Your theology has no moral accountability at all. Zero. Zilch. Bubkis. Anyone who believes is saved no matter how horribly they act on Earth, while anyone who doesn’t believe goes to hell no matter how wonderfully caring they are towards others. That’s not accountability, it’s the opposite – that’s “if you’re in the tribe you can do anything you want and get away with it; if you’re not in the tribe, no amount of upstanding behavior counts in your favor.”

          People of religion, in general, survive hardships better. If you believe in survival of the fittest, you would have to say we are at least fitter than non-believers.

          First, let’s see some actual data on that please.
          Second, “you’ll make it through the winter better” is a really crappy philosophical argument for believing in God. You’d better hope your God doesn’t hold believers accountable for their acts, else he’s probably going to punish you for encouraging people to believe in Him purely for the pragmatic, worldy benefits it gets them.

        • Michael Neville

          It makes one better adjusted, if there is strong faith involved. People of religion, in general, survive hardships better.

          Got any evidence to support these dubious claims? Considering that American atheists have a lower divorce rate than most Christians (21% for atheists, Lutherans and Catholics, over 21% for all other Christians) [LINK] it would seem that atheists tend to have happier marriages than Christians. That’s just one datum which argues against your claim.

          If you believe in survival of the fittest, you would have to say we are at least fitter than non-believers.

          You quite obviously do not understand what Darwin was talking about when he discussed survival of the fittest. I suggest you refrain from technical jargon you’re not competent to use.

        • Mother Teresa is appropriately denigrated, I think. The image and the reality don’t match up.

          Atheists are on borrowed charity from the millennia of patrimony of Christian charity and it’s arts, sciences, and law it brought the world.

          What does this mean? Is this “Isaac Newton was a Christian, y’know”?

          Sure, most of the progress in Europe was due to Christians because everyone was one. The status quo made sure that there was plenty of pressure to keep you in the fold. But that’s no positive for Christianity.

          The more scientific progress, the less need we have for God to explain things.

        • Jim Jones

          > “Isaac Newton was a Christian, y’know”.

          I guess. Of course he had no choice.

        • epeeist

          What does this mean? Is this “Isaac Newton was a Christian, y’know”?

          Well he thought he was Christian, lots of other people thought he was a heretic.

        • Zeta

          According to Wikipedia:

          Newton “recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him.”

          In Newton’s eyes, worshiping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin.

          Some Christians love to blindly tout him as a poster boy for how great Christianity is without knowing that he was an Arian. They normally shut up after I quoted the above.

        • He had to get an exemption from the king to become a professor at Cambridge without becoming ordained as an Anglican priest. I’m a little surprised that he didn’t get more pushback.

        • Jim Jones

          You really are crap at this.

        • Raging Bee

          We might say that if we ever saw any actual evidence to support such claims.

        • Raging Bee

          I think Atheists are on borrowed charity from the millennia of patrimony of Christian charity and it’s arts, sciences, and law it brought the world.

          Right, because neither arts, sciences, nor laws ever existed before Christianity came along and invented it all.

          And WTF do you mean by “borrowed charity?” What, exactly, are us atheists got from you lot that we’re supposed to be paying back?

        • Dom Saunders

          Mother Teresa celebrated poverty and let hundreds, if not thousands, of people die in her poorly furnished hospitals. The woman was pure evil and piss-poor at managing and allocating the money she received:

          https://www.forbes.com/2010/08/10/forbes-india-mother-teresa-charity-critical-public-review.html#9f4a699108ee

          And on charity from Christians? What, we should thank you for not killing us all too while you contributed just as much to most every major conflict in the history of the world? If you want to own Christian involvement in the arts and sciences, you better be willing to own the Crusades, Holocaust, American slavery, and even more recently, the synagogue mass shooting that recently happened. All of that has happened at your feet too because Christians are the main ones who stay violating human rights over a glorified imaginary friend. Don’t talk down to atheists unless you want to get dragged with facts.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          A great deal of art and charity was done in the name of the church because in the past it was socially unacceptable at least and illegal at worst to not belong to the church, and despite the Bible telling a story where Jesus shows contempt for conspicuous worship, Christians were trained by society to show off how pious they were whenever possible. So hypocrites loudly gave money to the church to show off how pious they were, other hypocrites commissioned religious works of art to show off how pious they were, communities built huge elaborate churches to show off how pious they were. If we believe the Bible, Jesus was gagging in disgust at all this.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Nobody here gives a shit about St. Francis.

        • Philip Sieve

          Nobody here gives a shot about learning anything from those they disagree with. Everybody was anti-Semitic to some degree. It might have had something to do with their being persecuted by them at one time, leaving a bad taste in their collective memory. I’m not excusing it, but just saying. A lot of people in their time (and thus time) didn’t want to give up their lame upper-middle-class life, except a handful. BTW, I don’t recall St. Francis of Assisi .or his followers being mean to Jews, though. You accept a lot on faith, really. There are black legends out there. Even anti-Catholic history shows only attack the hierarchy for the crusades and make him a hero of ecumenism. There are probably things you didn’t know about your heros, but our sources of history (at least the modern ones) don’t abuse their authority on subjects to make up black legends. You’ll probably find yours were butt-hurt grown kids with wounded inner-children, who based their sophistry upon that and manipulated facts where they don’t suit the narrative–like liberals do.

        • Damien Priestly

          Read ‘The “A History of the Jews” by Paul Johnson…the religious orders like Franciscans persecuted Jews because they considered them competition in the learning realm and the Friars were typically very anti-usury. Since Jews were discriminated in so many other fields, and often could not own farms or land…they turned to money lending and exchange.

          Friars like our lovely St Francis encouraged persecution of Jews by local villagers. Yes, I too, formerly a Catholic, received the white-washed version of St Francis as a kind child loving Friar. He and his cohorts were actually something very different. Learn something !!

        • Next you’ll be saying that St. Nicholas has a slave named Black Pete who would stuff bad children into his sack and take them back with him.

        • Philip Sieve

          Don’t confuse European folklore for the real man. It’s easy to sit in an armchair and denigrate one who actually did amazing feats of goodness for others. People praise those who try; not those who just criticize. That’s so lame.

        • Do you have any interesting arguments to make? We’re mostly atheists here. Isn’t this a golden opportunity to get a critique on your favorite apologetics arguments?

        • Brian Curtis

          The ‘real man’ seems to be the one you’ve manufactured in your imagination, who has only good qualities. What evidence supports your interpretation of the man more than others?

        • Raging Bee

          Don’t confuse European folklore for the real man.

          Okay, what information do you have about “the real man” other than the European folklore?

        • Philip Sieve

          Usury was a punishable offense. It should be prosecuted in decent society. If Jews happened to have been doing it, then tough shit.

        • Sure, usury was punished. But so what? The definition changed with time.

          I got a mortgage on a house once. Was that usury?

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Slaves running away from their masters was a punishable offense. That didn’t make it moral to whip them if they were recaptured.

        • Philip Sieve

          The saint and his closest bunch were against being intellectuals, though they were well-educated. Later ones joined and wanted to make it scholarly with a lot of educated fools. Granted, even that have us some educated saints, but it was a thing in that society to be in a prestigious order and that brought about ones that were not ready to follow Christ. St. Francis gave his all to the poor and hugged and/or kissed on the cheek lepers. In that society, they were not welcome to be amongst them. Well, it was contagious, but the citizens could have found a way. Who the hell are YOU to judge St. Francis of Assisi!? What have you ever done any halfway like that? Have you picked the poor off the street? Whatever his imperfections, you are an ant in comparison with a ridiculous sized ego. Laughable. I can, by the grace of God (without which, I would be as much an “educated fool ” as you) admit I am also an ant in comparison. Just keep judging to feel self-important. It has no basis in reality.

        • Michael Neville

          Why shouldn’t anyone judge Francis of Assisi? You’re doing it, your judgement puts him in a good light. So stop whining when we disagree with you.

          You’re not very good at this argumentation thing. You drag in red herrings, non sequiturs and other assorted logical fallacies. In short, you’re not as smart and knowledgeable as you think you are. Does the phrase “Dunning-Kruger Effect” mean anything to you?

        • Does the phrase “Dunning-Kruger Effect” mean anything to you?

          He’d think he was in the “so smart that you underestimate yourself” bin.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          TL;dr : I’m going to throw up a wall of obfuscatory text with a bunch of unsupported assertions, then claim to actually be contributing to increasing understanding.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you know why usury became a non-sin? Like many renaissance popes, Paul II (reigned 1464 -1471) owed vast amounts of money. The di Medici bank bought up many of his loans and threatened to call them in unless Paul eased up on usury, i.e., allowed interest to be paid on loans. So Paul issued a bull making exorbitant interest sinful but allowing “modest” interest. Subjective moralism at its finest.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘Usury’ was punished because xtians were forbidden to do it, so only jewish people could be bankers.

          Just one more fuckup of xtianity, now isn’t it?

        • Dom Saunders

          Great, so you finally played your hand as an anti-Semitic fuck. What’s next, are you just going to jump ahead and say the people just murdered deserved to die for not being Christian? You may as well just say this because you’ve just about proven you’re an amoral monster otherwise.

        • epeeist

          Great, so you finally played your hand as an anti-Semitic fuck.

          Today is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

        • Damien Priestly

          Yeah…then why don’t you also applaud this loving Christian sentiment too…

          Mathew 27:25 “All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children”

          Like you say…”tough shit” for them Hebrews…thanks for your fine Christian sentiments !!

        • Lex Lata

          Usury wasn’t unlawful for Jews, generally speaking.

          But just so I’m clear–is it your position that the organized maltreatment of Jews for much of
          Christendom’s history–the segregation, ostracism, ghettoes, blood libels, professional bans, pogroms, etc.–was justified because Jews charged interest on loans?

        • Jim Jones
        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Are you a bot? Just what the hell is this drivel?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Sievie-poo, bring *evidence*.

          Otherwise, you’re just wasting our time and being purposely disagreeable.

        • Dom Saunders

          You mean like how conservatives lie, and lie, and lie, and encourage their president to do more of the same? What have we lied about because I really want to know. We’re not the ones with a president sitting on a damn near 70% lying rate on Politifact, nor are we the ones going around downplaying an Anti-Semitic attack (along with attacks on black churches) and calling them anti-religious attacks when it’s simply yet more white people explicitly trying to either start a race war or murder a bunch of people simply because they’re racist fucks.

          Don’t act like you give a damn about the truth either when you just finished saying you’re okay with accepting things merely on faith as opposed to evidence. Do your homework and actually know things before you come for anybody. Check your ignorance before you come for someone else’s.

        • You can help. Tell us what you believe and give us good reason to believe it. Bring a thoughtful argument for Christianity.

        • Damien Priestly

          St Francis was the worst. As Jewish people would tell your, Friars were exceptionally anti-semitic and rigid in their thinking.

          Don’t fall for the meek and loving St Francis propaganda…his and other Catholic orders actually did great harm.

        • Susan

          Why are you Atheist people so negative?

          A couple of things.

          1) There is no reason to capitalize “atheist”. It’s not a proper noun. It just refers to people who don’t believe in god(s).
          2) What do you mean by “negative”? Not accepting flawed and unsupported claims might be a negative response to an affirmative claim but it’s not a “negative” viewpoint. Unless, you intend to equivocate, please be more specific when you attempt to tar a whole group of people.
          3) Which St. Francis? What “emotional baggage” did he avoid that you claim bogs down most christians and atheists?

        • Jim Jones

          Tell it to ‘Mother’ Teresa / Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. Or any of the thousands who murdered for their gods.

        • Raging Bee

          Why are you theist people so ignorant and dishonest?

        • Dom Saunders

          Is “free of all emotional baggage” code for “he lived in his own world and didn’t care a damn thing about the social issues of his day? Like slavery, child rape, the mistreatment of other human beings, you know, literally all of the things the Bible condones?

          We’re not negative. We just don’t like B.S. so when you come here giving us more of that, it reminds us why in many of our cases, we left religion in the first place. Meanwhile, you’re coming here being purely condescending and sanctimonious . Why exactly should we be nice or respectful to you when you can’t even be bothered to do the same to us?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e02fb263f379bcf829489214e15d99977fc26d19b14e8c7972d7724e38ce5da2.gif

        • We’re not all.

        • Phil

          Negative about what in particular are you concerned about? I personally like to think I have quite a positive outlook until events take a turn for the worst like Trump, Brexit, ISIS etc

        • Boo Kian

          How will ever really know the true inner and outer life of St Francis unless as a personal friend. Look at the rapes and forced abortions of nuns by monks scandal recently….

      • Boo Kian

        Agree. And this guilt and fear of not qualifying for heaven must plaque some Christians. After all, many are called but few are chosen, and He will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25) and it’s easier for a rich man to pass thru the eye of a needle than to go to heaven.
        Where is the love amongst all this year and insecurity ? Dont forget He is watching you and your innermost thoughts every second of your life and knows all the lusty filthy ignoble selfish cruel thought you ever had. Don’t hope to sneak into heaven you impure of heart.

        What I’m trying to say is what is Good if you do it out of expectation of reward ir fear of punishment? Is it another form of self preservation and selfishness?

        Now the atheist, whatever sacrifice he makes, he knows theres no payment for his good deeds nor any punishment for his bad that he voluntarily refrained from…isn’t this a much better Good?

        • Greg G.

          After all, many are called but few are chosen, and He will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25) and it’s easier for a rich man to pass thru the eye of a needle than to go to heaven.

          Don’t forget Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says, “I never knew you. Depart from me.”

  • Which Christian sect’s god am I supposed to worship to achieve the world’s best grade A #1 morality?

    • Michael Neville

      Whichever Christian you ask will be happy to point you to their specific sect.

  • Philip Sieve

    Religion doesn’t make people more moral; it just gives them the blueprint. Read the source material–whatever lays out the fundamentals. Then, you can judge the behavior, but know you will be judged. Of course, newer generations of atheists will ask, what are your values based upon and why should they care. Christ created what has been dubbed “Catholic” for around 1800 years by his Apostles’ successors. History. And Scripture attests to this. Their priesthood was never disestablished by any authoritative source and no grounds were established for it. No other Christian faiths were created by him and have no authority to exist. His leadership could screw up, personally, but the doctrines defined in healthy times never changed; all others have. That is humanly impossible for an institution made only by humans.

    • Religion doesn’t make people more moral; it just gives them the blueprint. Read the source material–whatever lays out the fundamentals. Then, you can judge the behavior

      The OT paints Yahweh as a Bronze Age bastard.

      You mean like that?

      but know you will be judged.

      Is this Pascal’s Wager? You err if you assume only your Christianity and atheism. There are lots of other hells we could both be wrong about.

      His leadership could screw up, personally, but the doctrines defined in healthy times never changed; all others have. That is humanly impossible for an institution made only by humans.

      What does this mean? That Christian doctrines have been unchanged; therefore, they were magically preserved?

    • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

      Christ created what has been dubbed “Catholic” for around 1800 years by his Apostles’ successors

      Christ provided no means for the Apostles to have successors. How could the apostles have successors when the world was supposed to end before they died?

    • Jim Jones

      > Christ created what has been dubbed “Catholic” for around 1800 years by his Apostles’ successors.

      A lie, told for centuries by the winning cult of the Christians.

      Religion is spread by four basic methods:

      1) Deceit
      2) Fear
      3) Torture
      4) Murder

      It is always thus.

      The Catholic church has used them all ruthlessly for centuries. How far the religious will go with these depends on those of us who have moral sense. We know what will happen if they don’t have these constraints from outside.

    • Susan

      Religion doesn’t make people more moral; it just gives them the blueprint.

      Define religion. Then, provide an example where it provides a blueprint for morality. i.e. provide an example of morality that is augmented by your religion that can’t be argued for based on, say, compassion for other earthlings

      Read the source material.

      I have. Did you read the whole Koran with an open heart? How about the Book of Mormon? Are you prepared to accept the exegesis of those who believe their books are True but subject to misinterpretation by flawed humans?

      What makes your book special?

      Then, you can judge the behaviour, but know you will be judged.

      Of course, I can judge the behaviour.

      Your comment consists mostly of special pleading.

      • Sample1

        How about the Book of Mormon?

        Once had a summertime romance with a Mormon, if it could be called that. By way of her I had been introduced to her Mormon peers. I read their book and your post reminded me of something. The catchphrase is to read it with a sincere and open heart and there was a dogeared page to reference for doing just that. I can still recall my instinctual resistance in acknowledging that that was what I was doing as I read it. In retrospect, it’s a feeling of tacitly accepting magic or a spell. I knew this at the time but wouldn’t have called it such, rather I would have rationalized it as an act of will that could affect my Catholicism negatively.

        How those rationalizations are morphed into being qualitatively different from mythologized story book magic is one of the great triumphs of human imagination. The Mass is a magic show and it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like a magic show. Couple magic with threats of punishment or reward and well, here we are.

        It’s difficult to explain to the catechized or indoctrinated what learning the basics of scientific literacy affords. Namely, bullshit detection. Magic being preferred over the natural runs deep. We love escapism, from books to films. I suppose one challenge before us is to explain how going to the movies after leaving church isn’t escapism. Experiencing reality is in some sense absent for the person bound to spells, and as is so common with organized religions, sayings like the fullness of truth or possessing a deposit of faith are anything but the freedom of utilizing one’s will.

        Anyway, thanks for the memory trigger.

        Mike
        /off soapbox

        • Brian Curtis

          “Read it with an open heart” translates to “Switch off your brain first, and then it will all make sense.”

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          If you don’t immediately accept what it says, then obviously you didn’t read it with an open heart.

        • sandy

          Churches also use sounds and smells to complete their spells. The smell of incense, singing and loud music (drumming) as I once witnessed during holy week in Seville, Spain can be very powerful.

        • Michael Neville

          I read the Book of Mormon and my reaction was similar to Mark Twain’s, who called it “chloroform in print”. Written, or actually dictated, in imitation of the King James Bible by a man with no understanding of Jacobean English, it’s full of grammatical and syntax errors. Plus it’s boring. One has to be a true believer or a masochist to read the BOM all the way through. I fall into the second category.

    • Raging Bee

      “THE blueprint?” You really think there’s only one? Or that only “religion” can offer one?

      Read the source material–whatever lays out the fundamentals.

      We have, and guess what — not all of the “source material” is religious, or is based on belief in a supernatural god.

      And anyone who’s read any actual history can tell you that the rest of your pro-Catholic fluff is utter bullshit. (Oh, and are you saying Jesus didn’t create the One True Church until about 200 years after he went back up to Heaven?)

    • Wow, that is a lot to justify.

    • Dom Saunders

      You can just as easily get a moral “blueprint” from reading most any literature or even Harry Potter and without the additional unverifiable baggage that comes from fiction taking itself too seriously, such as with religion. Thus, there really is no advantage to religion and it truly serves no purpose that something else can’t fill.

    • Otto

      >>>”No other Christian faiths were created by him and have no authority to exist.”

      Spoken like someone who has strictly gotten their information from RCC sources. That is some grade A bullshit. Many Christianities existed before the Catholic church was able to eliminate rivals through happenstance, killing, war, politics and plain luck.

      https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/diversity.html
      https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Wars-Patriarchs-Emperors-Christians/dp/0061768936

    • Joe

      Religion doesn’t make people more moral; it just gives them the blueprint.

      No it doesn’t.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        If the blueprint includes calling a willingness to murder your child to show how awesome you think God is, then the architect should be fired. This morality collapses under its own weight. Luckily many Christians ignore the actual moral lessons in their religion.

      • FHRITP

        Perhaps not so much a “blueprint” but certainly a “map.”

    • FHRITP

      More a “map,” different somewhat than a “blueprint.”

  • Verbose Stoic

    I doubt the last objection you’ll deal with is actually mine, so let me summarize it here:

    The problem with the challenge is that once we parse out what it has to mean to say anything interesting, it becomes an uninteresting question. In order for it to have any real meat to it, it has to be the case that Hitchens is asking what theists would say that they can do morally that atheists couldn’t do morally, which means it is done because both are following a — if not the — right moral code, since obviously pretty much anyone can take any logically possible action at any time. So we have to be focusing on them doing it because of the right motivation, the motivation to actually be moral.

    Now, there are two approaches to morality that theists can take. Type1s argue that an action is moral because God defines it to be moral, while Type2s argue that there is an objective morality and God’s commands align with it because God knows what that objective morality means. Putting aside Euthyphro objections — since we’re just looking at the challenge here — these types of theists will react differently to the challenge. Type1s can answer that there are NO moral actions that atheists can take, because it is impossible for atheists to act on the motivation that the action is moral because the God that they don’t believe exists defines it such. This is pretty much what Amy’s answer aims at, and it can’t be merely dismissed with “our objective judges would reject it”. From the Type1 theist moral perspective, it’s a valid comment and one that justifies them saying that atheists are not and cannot be moral, which is what the challenge was aimed at refuting.

    Type2s, on the other hand, will simply say that there is no action that an atheist cannot take morally than a theist can, as long as the atheist is using the right morality. But if the atheist then tries to crow about winning the challenge, Type2s will simply answer that they never claimed that atheists couldn’t be moral in principle. When they ask atheists what their basis for morality is if it isn’t based on God, they are indeed really asking the atheists what their basis for morality IS. For Type1s, they know where they get it from. But for atheists, they don’t, and atheists who want to claim to still be moral really DO need to outline the basis for their morality. In line with the challenge, if all atheists did was the same thing that theists did and claimed that therefore they were equally moral then from the Type2 perspective that suggests that they are mimicking theistic morality and claiming that they are moral. So they need to have that base morality and be able to explain it, which is all Type2s are demanding, and if they can’t provide that, then we can question whether or not they’re actually moral.

    So as a starting point, it’s not uninteresting, but as an ending point, it is.

    (My post from 2011 on this, in case anyone is interested in a slightly longer discussion of it, is here: https://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/hitchens-challenge-why-its-philosophically-naive/ )